Focus on one of our Organic Farms - Tom Appleby Applevale Ltd
Our Organic milk and cream has a distinctive creamy taste with hints of grassy notes. It is sourced from 3 local farms that are all located within 15 miles from the Dairy. Tom Appleby, runs his Organic herd at Bretforton House Farm, near Evesham with his wife Nicola and Father, James and have been supplying Cotteswold for 11 years.
Tom is a passionate dedicated farmer and happily shares the history of his business and how they operate differently from conventional dairy farms.
Tom’s grandparents moved into the farm 50 years ago and initially was ran as a mixed farm, (Dairy, Beef, Veg and Arable) until his grandfather’s retirement in 1996. His Uncle took on the Cropping and his parents, James & Susan, the cows. In 1998 the decision was taken to convert to Organic, with the first Organic milk being sold in 2000. Tom returned to the family farm in 2005 and Spot Loggins Ice Cream was born, which is now run by Tom’s Sister Pheobe and her fiancé David with involvement from Mum Susan too. In 2011, they increased their herd from 250 cows to 550 and with that they have updated the infrastructure, which culminated in 2016 with the building of a new milking shed. They work closely with local Organic farmers who grow grass and rear youngstock for them.
Tom aims to keep his farming system simple and as low carbon as possible. With their 326 hectares, they only grow grass and clover which enables the cows to consume the majority of their diet in the form of grazed grass. They walk to their feed and spread their own manure, not using artificial fertilisers and therefore much less fossil fuel is burnt per litre of milk compared with conventional systems. They are also not ploughing their land on a regular basis (which releases carbon into the atmosphere) and so their pastures act as a carbon sink.
By keeping things simple, they feel that it is a good place to work for their excellent team who run the farm. This in turn reduces stress on the cows, important for their wellbeing and the quality of the milk they produce.
Their cows are kept organically on a grass diet with some supplement over winter. They calve between August and October and are only housed for around 100-120 days per year between November and February. They aim for 90% of their milk to be produced from grass, and 60% of this to be grazed grass. The cows are crossbred, predominantly New Zealand and Norweigan genetics. This produces healthy, fertile and long lasting cows. Very few antibiotic treatments are used, as the cows live in a low stress environment and are exceptionally well cared for. When an animal does need treatment, 90% of cases are cured with homoepathic or herbal remedies.
Dairy plays an important, and growing role in agriculture. With the decline in mixed farming systems, arable and horticultural systems have seen the health of their soil decline. This is mainly due to a lack of organic matter which feeds the multitude of organisms which live in the soil and provide the nutrients required for crops to grow. This can best be replenished by growing non-edible crops such as grass and spreading manure – which is where the cows come in!
Tom believes strongly that milk in the UK should be produced from grass. In this country, grass grows for most of year, which gives a natural advantage over hotter, colder and drier places (everywhere else). On top of this, grass is the healthiest feed for cows and grass-fed cows produce the most nutritious milk – it’s a win-win-win.
Tom is also involved in various stewardship and environmental schemes and diversified into making the delicious ice cream, Spot Loggins too!
Tom summaries ‘I personally take enormous pride in being able to tell people who visit the farm that our milk is processed locally and that when they pick up a bottle of Cotteswold Organic milk, typically 50% of it was produced on our farm.
As a family business, Cotteswold understand the challenges we face. We have always found George very understanding, willing to listen to what we have to say and equally to share with us his own plans for the processing and marketing of our milk.’
Do take time to look at their facebook page and make sure you taste some of their delicious Spot Loggins ice cream!